Britain cannot accept Michel Barnier's proposal to break the deadlock in the Brexit talks because it would risk the unity of the United Kingdom by treating Northern Ireland differently, the chairman of the ruling Conservative Party said.
Less than three weeks before Britain leaves the European Union, the EU's chief negotiator said on Friday Britain could have the unilateral right to leave their customs union after Brexit. However, Northern Ireland would remain in the EU's trade orbit to prevent the need for any customs checks on the border with EU-member Ireland.
"We are not going to have an agreement that compromises the unity of the United Kingdom," Brandon Lewis told BBC radio. "The proposal that Michel Barnier put out yesterday would compromise the strength of the union.
"This government will not tolerate something that puts the United Kingdom's union at risk."